All We Can’t See
Shining Light into the Darkness On Nauru
All We Can't See - Shining Light into the Darkness On Nauru
Written by Angus McDonald
2 minute reading time
Between our monthly episodes, we’ll be uploading other shorter content including, interviews, profiles of other projects and organisations who are supporting humanitarian approaches to displaced people.
An important exhibition opens in Melbourne on 31 July titled All We Can’t See - Illustrating the Nauru Files.
The All We Can't See exhibition is being held at gallery fortyfivedownstairs in Melbourne from 31July and runs until 11 August, coinciding with Melbourne Art Week. The exhibition attempts to lift the veil and humanize the plight of refugees and asylum seekers detained offshore on Nauru.
The Nauru files, over 2000 of them, were obtained and published by the Guardian in August last year. The files are a series of individual incident reports written by offshore detention centre staff between 2013 and 2015. They document incidents of assault, sexual assault, threatened and actual self-harm involving asylum seekers and refugees transferred to the Australian Government built and managed processing facilities on Nauru. They make for harrowing reading.
The project brings together many Australian artists, including myself, who have each interpreted one file for the exhibition. We are also screening Episode 1 of Philoxenia each day of the show.
Although less than a fifth of those on Nauru during the period covered by the Nauru files were children, they account for over half of the reported incidents. In the file I chose, a boy had sewn a heart into his own hand with a needle and thread. I have three children of my own. The idea that any of our children would be driven to commit such an act of self-mutilation is horrifying. It should be more than enough to provoke any western government to intervene but that has not been the case at all and there are 2000 more such files, each as disturbing in their own way.
The sheer volume of the reports reflects an irrefutable culture of hostility and abuse on Nauru, authored by the Federal Government. It is a human tragedy that began five years ago and continues unabated even now. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Save The Children, and the AMA are just a few of the numerous organisations who continue to condemn the Federal Government for its maltreatment of hundreds of innocent men, women and children who arrived here, seeking safety from persecution in their home countries.
Gaining access to Nauru is difficult. The lack of transparency that characterizes the entire offshore processing regime is a central feature of the government’s intention to keep this dark and shameful situation out of sight in the hope that Australians will not care. But we do care. Shining a light into that darkness is hard but many organisations and concerned Australians are working hard to do exactly this in order to protect those on Nauru and Manus Island. They do that out of concern for the victims, but also because they care about what Australia stands for. All We Can’t See is an important contribution to that collective effort.
If you're in Melbourne, go and view it.
Broken Men in Paradise, New York Times Magazine
Australia’s Regime of Cruelty, Amnesty International
Get Facts, Refugee Council